One good side effect of cancer is that you get to read more.
I’ve just finished a book called ‘What to do with lobsters in a place like Klippiesfontein‘ by Colette Victor.
I spotted it in the bookshop and knew immediately that it was a book set in South Africa, from the front cover and title. I don’t read books set in SA very often (although the last novel I read was set in Tanzania) but this one appealed to me, mostly for it’s quirky title. It is a good, light-hearted read, but there is simmering racial tension – almost a prerequisite for any book set in my old home country. I was pleased to see that I can still remember a fair amount of Afrikaans (there are several quotes in the language.) Lekker. I can confirm that it did not make me want to go back to SA, at all.
One thing I didn’t like about the book is that the main character’s wife gets cancer. Ever since my diagnosis, cancer seems to be almost everywhere – I expect it in the medical dramas on TV but it’s also in the soaps and in the news and even in George Clarke’s The Resoration Man, for goodness sake (one of the people renovating an old building died of cancer aged 33 – great.) I guess that I should be grateful that cancer has a high profile – at least people know what it is, unlike so many rare diseases.
I have started reading ‘A survival guide for life‘ by Bear Grylls. It’s a self-help book with lots of encouraging quotations. For those who don’t know, Bear is a Christian survival expert who presents lots of survival programmes on TV. He is also the UK’s chief scout, and has written many kids’ and adults’ books. The best thing about Bear is his amazing positive attitude. It’s what sets him ahead of the pack. It’s an easy to read book that makes you question your real motivations, and what is setting you back in life. I don’t usually do self-help books, but this one is different.
“Have a guess what the difference is between a £1 million racehorse and a £100 racehorse. Well, obviously the £1000000 one is 10000 times faster than the £100 one. Right? That’s clearly ridiculous… At best the difference is only ever going to be a few seconds. There is often just a nose between first and forth place in a horse race.
And it’s the same in life.”
(Grylls, B (2012))
Well, that makes you think, doesn’t it?
So if you feel that you are losing at life or at work or wherever, it’s not because you are really slow or much stupider or worse off than everyone else who seems to be succeeding and happy. You are only a few seconds behind. And what will help you to catch up? I believe that the vital ingredient is a positive attitude. A ‘yes this will be really hard and sometimes I will want to quit and people might laugh at me but I am going to keep going anyway’ approach . It’s worth so much more than a good education or rich parents or good looks.
And the great thing about a good attitude, is that it’s free. And you can choose to have it – or you can choose to let circumstances get you down – your choice. Not your parent’s choice. Not your teacher’s choice. Not your boss’ choice. Your choice.
“I have come that they may have life, and life to the full.” Jesus.
I love books.